Second only to the thrill of flying a radio-controlled plane for the first time, there’s nothing like the feel of building one from scratch yourself.
So how do you go about it?
Keep reading for the first part in the series instructing you how to build your first RC plane.
Choosing materials and type of plane
If you choose to build a plane made of plastic it won’t take that long to put together. The Aircore, for example, can be a great beginner’s RC aircraft. Plastic kits use simple super glue or contact cement to stick everything together. Balsa wood airplanes, on the other hand take more time but some pilots think they hold up better in the long run. You’ll have to decide if speed or the joy of woodworking is a higher priority for you.
Foam is also an option. With a foam model plane you can build it really quickly, but there are drawbacks. The size will probably be smaller than you want, an average of about 32 inches of wingspan. It also won’t be able to fly in windy conditions or from grass. Most kits will come with a set of instructions. Start off by clearing a large amount of space to work with. Flat and level works, like a large worktable in your garage. Some board will also be necessary to work with the glue and parts.
A gas-powered plane will need provision to fuel tanks, an electronic speed controller (ESC) and a different kind of engine mount. These are the only differences between this type of plane and one powered by electricity. Connecting the electronic parts is one of the most enjoyable (or difficult) parts of the process. Follow the instructions given by the manufacturer, as this can literally make or break your craft. Wire antennas will need to be secured.
You can either tape it to the tail if it’s a smaller plane or run it on the interior, making sure to avoid any metal parts. One thing to be mindful of is that vibration from the engine can damage the servo. A servo kit should have an isolation pad to protect it.
If you’re feeling confident, you can take it to the next level by building a scale aircraft. Many enthusiasts only do this after they’ve built a few planes. However, there’s nothing stopping you from going for it the first time around. The only thing for a complete beginner is you’ll have to limit the kinds of models you attempt. Your scale airplane should also be a stable model. If you’re looking for a warbird, there will be even more of a limited choice. Some good options are the Tiger Moth and the Moth Minor. The easier of the two to build is the Moth Minor, a low wing model with an open cockpit.
Now that you know the basics, get out there and start building. Part two of this series will cover how to conduct testing prior to flight and how to run through your first flight.